In my brief post about disappearing islands I mentioned circles in life — circles within circles, others hidden, only revealed later. A short while ago I snapped the photo of the spiral below, and shared it on twitter. It is not an especially good photo, the lighting is poor, the camera was hand-held, so it is not perhaps as sharp as it could be in the dim light. My be-flip-flopped feet appear to the left.

But I am not sure that matters.

What I was trying to capture in this photo was the spiral, twisting down the stairs, continuing into the millions-of-years-old coils of the giant ammonite at the centre. The idea of time as a spiral, life as a twisting line, slowly expanding as you grow, whilst also contracting as you age is something I have thought of before. Circles, spirals, lines that twist and bend. These things are always fascinating to me. Flat planes, straight lines, edges that are linear and sharp — I love these too, but I think I love them in nature because they are different to the twisting of so many shapes, whether the double helix of DNA, or the shape of seashells, or any other of the countless billions of examples.

Too often we as a species do not bend as we should. We prefer to be rigid, straight. This way of living will never succeed — us versus them, this place against that — the only way a straight line can alter is by being broken, or bent out of shape. A spiral, a curve, a twisting line — these are already more pliable, more flexible — and often inherently stronger.

This is just a photo of the staircase in the house I live in with my family. There is nothing especially special about it, either as a photo, a stair, or even a composition. But, by allowing my mind to follow the corkscrew, I see other things. Other connections. Circles within circles, spirals twisting and meshing, strengthening, building.

Spiral staircase in old home in Scotland with an ammonite at the base.
These houses were laid out on a design originally planned by Thomas Telford. Ours was one of the first built, in the 1830s, and still retains some of the original features — and others are most likely still there, hidden behind later plasterboarding. The stairs are one of my favourite things about the house and at some point I shall also have to share a photo of the carved end of the bannister. The original mosaic tiles were hidden by an old carpet when my family moved in.

 

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Friday Photo #12 Spiral and Spirals

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